Triggers & Am I in the right relationship?

The dream was intense and vivid. The weight of his body. The smell of him and of the alcohol on his breath. Feel of him. It felt so real. I felt panicked and terrified. I woke up sobbing and in a cold sweat.

Davide had his arm around me… and I just can’t stand being touched right now. I get out of bed and stand in the hot shower. Scrubbing my skin raw. I still feel him on me. Feel him everywhere. And it makes me so sick. So I sit on the floor of the shower and let it all out. I cry and cry. Letting the hot water wash away my tears until there is nothing left and I feel numb.

Davide opens up the shower door and tried to comfort me, but I just hug my knees and don’t feel like talking. He kisses me, but his breath still smells like alcohol from last night. It felt like a trigger to the dream, so I push him away. He searches my eyes, looking confused. But I look away… I just can’t even look him in the eye right now. So he just sits outside of the shower… waiting for me.

I sigh. I know I’m hurting him right now. I don’t want to. I never push him away. Ever. I eventually come out. He wraps me in a towel and carries me back to bed. Rubbing my shoulders, trying to dry me off.

“You okay?” he asks… his voice soft.
“No.” I say
“Is it the same nightmare again?” he asks
I nod.
He sighs deeply and wraps me in a hug again. “I don’t know what to do… tell me what to do babe.” he pleads.

I look down. My brain is foggy and I hate it. This is the fourth night in a row that this has happened… where I can’t sleep. I have a hard time piecing together words. Have a hard time being logical… I just feel like this exposed nerve right now, sensitive to every little thing.

“You smell like alcohol and I need you to not smell like alcohol. It’s… a trigger.”
He nods, but as he leaves the room… he looks hurt.

When he leaves, Cliff jumps up onto the bed and jumps on my lap and plants kisses on my cheek. I wrap my arms around his warm fur and I hug him tight. We’ve been through so much together… I don’t know what I’d do without this little guy, he’s the sweetest. Davide comes back to me giggling as Cliff nuzzles my ear, his tail wagging.

“Really? The damn dog can comfort you more than I can?” he exclaims. Frustrated.

Cliff stops, and curls himself up onto my lap.

I let the silence fill the room… he’s frustrated. I’m frustrated. I take a deep breath.

“Can you please not make this about you right now? I know we’re both frustrated. I just don’t want to argue.” I said, my voice sounding small.

“How can I not, Monica? I’m supposed to be the one to make you feel better! But the damn dog does a better job of it!” his voice is loud.

“Shouldn’t we be happy that something can make me smile right now? Look, we’re both sleep deprived and grumpy. Can we not fight, please?”

“No. We need to talk. You pushed me away.” his voice angry
“You smelled like alcohol.” I stated. Getting irritated.
“What? So I reminded you of him? I’m never going to hurt you Monica. I can’t believe you’d think that.” he was visibly shaking.

I got up and hugged him. “I know you’ll never hurt me. I know all of that. It’s not that. This isn’t like a logical thing. This is like… pure emotion. You are a man and you smelled like alcohol. That’s all it took to trigger it. Look… I need you to be my teammate right now. We need to attack the problem, not each other. Can you do that with me right now?”

Davide pushed me away and walked to the other side of the room.

Which… hurt my feelings… a lot. “I’m going for a run around the block.” I say quietly and went to the closet to get my shoes.

He followed me, “No… you’re not. It’s 3am, I don’t want you leaving. You’re coming back to bed with me.” he stood in the doorway.

“All I do at night lately is stare at the ceiling. I just can’t do it right now. I need fresh air. And I can’t fight with you on top of all of this too. I need to take some space…. so that means a walk. I’ll bring Cliff. This neighborhood couldn’t be safer. It’ll be okay. You can even come if you want to.” my voice pleading.

I said you’re not leaving. Go to bed Monica.” he said, his voice sounding authoritative.

“Please, do not tell me what to do like I’m some piece of property. We promised we wouldn’t speak to each other like this. I’m trying really hard to be rational right now…”

He cut me off before I could finish my sentence. “You’re not. What do you want to get assaulted again? I said go to bed. Now.” he grabbed the shoes out of my hand and threw them in the closet.

I glared at him. Furious. “Fine. I won’t leave the house, but I’m not sleeping with you after that.” I left the room, Cliff following me, and I snuck in the guest room, where my close friend who is visiting, is sleeping.

Am I in the right relationship?

I climbed under the covers and she turned over to face me and cuddled up to my side, “Another nightmare?” she asked sleepily.
“Yeah. Sorry to wake you. I tried to be quiet.” I whispered in the dark.
“I’ve been up… Davide’s voice echos a bit.” she replied.
I sighed. “You heard all of that?” I asked
“Yeah… are you okay?” she asked

Normally I can be super rational, but with the lack of sleep and the emotional week… that’s kinda gone out the window. I burst into tears.

My dad yelled a lot when growing up… and I know for a fact that I need a relationship with a great communicator. Someone who won’t raise his voice at me. Maybe it’s the lack of sleep… but it hurt. Really really badly.

She hugged me while I cried.
“Monica, are you happy?” she asked

And the weight of the question… just felt like a lot. I thought deeply about it. I am happy with Davide. I do genuinely mean that. I think he is amazing, so funny, and so positive. This is the happiest relationship I’ve ever been in. We always have a blast together.

“Yes. He makes me really happy most of the time.” I said
“I think you deserve better than most of the time.” she replied back quietly.

I’ve been thinking a lot about everything I want to do and accomplish in life and whether his traits will allows us to grow together. And that’s the big question mark for me. He doesn’t push me to be better. Sometimes when things get bad like they are right now… he isn’t my teammate. Maybe I’m expecting perfection though…

In the past, I’ve made the mistake of staying with someone simply because of our history together. “We’ve been together X long. I don’t want to give up. I’m going to stay.” kind of attitude. I’m not going to make that mistake ever again… so I ask myself if I’m with him because of our history or just because of our engagement or if it’s because I truly am happy and can see my life with him.

It’s a tough question. I am happy. I can see my life with him. I’m just figuring out if it’s the life that I want.

Then I wonder if I am only asking these questions because of how I feel about Nate? It’s not like that’s a perfection situation either. I do have some doubts about Nate as well. Especially after this week. It could just be because I’m emotional from everything else. I don’t know if it’s something bigger than that. It’s hard to tell with the lack of sleep.

M and I stay up late and I open up to her about it all. About my relationship, about my doubts about Nate, but the one thing we don’t talk about… is the nightmares.

Opening up about it all

Sometime around 5am, I couldn’t stand staring at the ceiling any longer. I texted Dusty, “Wanna workout?” he replied right away, so I got up, which woke up M. She decided to join- so we got dressed and left a note.

Dusty and I have been mostly avoiding each other. But… he’s one of the very very few people that know the extent of what happened last year. He was there for every single up and down. Every major decision. He helped me get through it all… and I really needed that friendship right now.

The second he saw me, he looked concerned. “You okay?” he said as he wrapped me up in one of his large hugs.

Usually, I go with my ‘Of course, I’m fine.’ but I’m honestly in really really bad shape right now. I had no energy to hide it. I shook my head no while I said “Not really. But I need an intense workout today. I need to get out of my head. What should we do?”

He nodded. “Get started stretching… I’ll set up.” and just like that, we moved on. I’ve always liked that about him, he gives me space to open up.

After our workout I was laying on the floor panting, trying to catch my breath. Already too sore to move.

When he broke the silence and said, “It’s been a year now, huh?”
I closed my eyes and said “Yeah…. a year.”
“Is that why you’re not okay? Or is it something else?” his voice was kind.
“Yeah… I can’t sleep. The nightmares are back. Haven’t really slept in… days. And the dreams are more intense than ever.” my voice was small again. He didn’t say anything… so I found myself continuing. “I still feel guilty. Like it was my fault. Like I had control over it. I know logically I didn’t…. but I can’t think with my head right now.”

“It wasn’t your fault Monica. You are the best person I know. I’m sorry that you’re going through all of this.”

I turned and smiled over at him softly, tears filling my eyes.

“Oh. Hey… now. Come here.” he said and he pulled me into a hug.
I sobbed into his chest and let it all out.

M left the room to give us a few minutes. And I opened up to him even more. Dusty was there for me during some of the worst times. I feel like he’s really only ever seen the super broken side of me. I told him all the things I couldn’t tell anyone else. They weren’t there for it. I feel like they just don’t understand it.

He nodded through it all and comforted me. Talked me through it. Even got me to laugh a little.

“I miss you. You still are one of my best friends.” he blurted out
“I wanted to be friends, but you kept…. being an idiot.” I stated.
“I know. I shouldn’t have gotten jealous. I was being an idiot.” he replied
“You said that last time. I miss your friendship, but I think we need to give it more time. I’m leaving again in less than a week, but I think I’ll be back after. Maybe when I’m back we can try surfing again, if you promise to not be an idiot.” I said

He nodded. “Where are you going this time? How long are you gone?”
“London for a work trip… than Davide and I have this vacation planned. I’m hoping to be back in July sometime. I hope. I haven’t bought my return flight back yet though… we haven’t figured out when we’re coming back.” I said

He sighed deeply.
“What?” I asked
“Nothing.” he said, but when our eyes met… I knew in my gut that I had managed to hurt him somehow. Again.

M drove me home
“I miss Dusty. He was really cool.” she stated.
I nodded. “He is cool.”
“You know I do like Davide, right?” she asked
“You don’t, but it’s okay.” I said back
“He’s actually pretty funny and he’s a really good cook. You are happy, everyone can see that. So I like him enough. But I don’t know if he’s the guy that’s going to make you happy like 10 years from now. He’s the guy that is going to whisk you off to Italy, marry you, get you pregnant and then have you living on the Italian coast for the rest of your life. It’d be a damn good life. I just don’t think it’s the life you have envisioned for yourself.”

I chewed on my lip, thinking about everything she was saying. “So what do you think I’ve envisioned?” I asked.

“Boss babe, obviously. Speaking at conferences all over the world. Published a book or two. Running off to Thailand, the Bahamas, New Zealand, and Greece for vacation. Moving around every few years to a new exotic location. Super sexy husband. Kinda nerd smart so you could talk to him about your nerd shit, but also someone badass and a ton of fun. Adorable little babies in a few years and traveling with them everywhere. Juggling it all. Which would be really really hard, but you’d love the challenge of it all. Of course you’d visit the Italian coast on vacation… but you wouldn’t want to be stuck there forever. Your husband has gotta have his own shit going for him. If he’s too dependent on you, you’d get bored. How accurate am I?” she said smiling at me.

I smiled back and said “All I heard was super sexy husband.” but she was pretty dead-on about it all. We both knew that. Problem was that trying to imagine Davide in that life… I knew I couldn’t see it.

About Monica

Living in Newport Beach and Kauai. Survivor of crippling Anxiety and Depression. When I'm not cuddling my adorable dachshund puppy, surfing, or reading, you'll find me on here writing about my love life, loss, and everything in between.

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